They shove him out of the way and hiss, “Disappear!” Hurriedly they grab her by the arm, push the door open and make their way down the alley toward the temple, disrupting the dawn. Her weeping and their shouting can be heard from across the courtyard. The “legal custodians of conduct” toss her into the middle of the crowd gathered to hear Jesus teach.
Confused she sits in the sand bracing herself with arms behind her. She looks up at Jesus. Her lips pressed. The furrows on her forehead reveal her disgust at such an embarrassing arrival.
She feels shame.
She feels failure.
She feels sickened.
The Pharisees are dressed in their smug self-righteousness. “Adulteress!” We caught her in the act!”
Their statement conjures up images of doors being kicked open and covers being pulled back. This woman has nowhere to hide. She is forced in the most public way to face the shame of her illicit moment. Her act was disgraceful and immoral. But the greater travesty in this moral mess almost goes unnoticed:
1. Two people are required to witness such an act. Question: What are the chances of two people accidentally witnessing this forbidden passion?
2. And where was the other half of this guilty party? Why wasn’t the man brought forward and thrown to the sand with this woman?
The silence is deafening.
The drama intense.
The same finger that engraved the Ten Commandments on rock writes in the sand. What did he write? No one knows for sure. Maybe He wrote the names of everyone holding a rock. Maybe he wrote “Not Guilty.”
At that moment the older men looked to the younger men. And the younger looked to the older. Maybe during this moment each briefly reflected on their own lives. And then all you could hear was the dropping of twelve rocks and the shuffling of feet.
Jesus and the woman were left alone. The jury is gone. The woman looks into Jesus’ face expecting condemnation. Jesus ask, “Where are your accusers? Is there anyone here that condemns you?”
“Then neither do I condemn you, go now and sin no more.”
A few years ago I asked my non-Christian friends a simple question. “Tell me a couple of things that come to mind when you hear someone mention ‘Christians’? The two top responses:
1. They go to church more than I do.
2. They are judgmental.
Sometimes I think we forget the truth about ourselves.
I have another friend.
He has a rock mounted on a plaque with the inscription, “First Stone” (John 8:7). He keeps it on his desk as a reminder.
I don’t know what happened to the woman in John 8. Maybe she went back to her husband. Maybe she became a close follower. I don’t know. But what I do know is grace arrived and loved this woman in the middle of her failure and shame.
When you get to heaven you will likely view
many folks whose presence there will be a shock to you.
But don’t be astonished, do not even stare,
doubtless, there will be many folks surprised to see you there.